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The Djibouti government has sold almost a quarter of the Port of Djibouti’s share to China Merchants Holdings International (CMHI), a state owned port operator, Capital learnt.
Information obtained from Djibouti indicated that the two sides have concluded their deal this week. According to the information CMHI has acquired a 23.5 percent share in the Port of Djibouti S.A for 185 million dollar. This move according to officials of the Chinese company is considered as a further foothold in Eastern Africa.
CMHI investment in Djibouti follows acquisitions made last year in Lome, Togo and in 2010 in Lagos, Nigeria in West Africa. According to experts, the share acquisition clinched with Djibouti Ports & Free Zones Authority (DPFZA) is part of the transformation process of the East African port into a private company.
Port of Djibouti has become an ideal transhipment hub for the region especially for Ethiopia, the second most populated country in the continent.
DPFZA official in Ethiopia told Capital that the current move is part of prioritizing a strategic partnership with the far eastern country. Currently various Chinese investments in Africa are growing but this kind of involvement for the least populated country of the region is rather new.
CMHI also agreed to establish a strategic partnership with local companies to plan, develop, construct and operate seaports and terminals and other port-related businesses in Djibouti.
Mekonnen Abera Director of Ethiopian Maritime Authority told Capital that the new deal will not affect the Ethiopia-Djibouti port use arrangement. “This kind of share deal will modernize the port activity and will eventually benefit the client,” Mekonnen said. “If the deal was a monopoly, it would have been a disadvantage for Ethiopia, but it is not,” he noted.
Experts said that the current involvement of the Chinese company will also contribute to the country’s plan to expand its port industry. The country is working to make Djibouti one of the biggest free zone destinies in the world and the government is undertaking several preconditions to boost the sector. In addition to the upgrades on the Port of Djibouti, four years ago the country inaugurated Doraleh Container Terminal located in the outskirt of the capital.
The construction of another new port located at Tadjoura town has also been officially commenced three weeks ago in the presence of Ethiopian and Djiboutian officials.